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Dina Sami

From a trainer diaries

By Eng. Dina Sami – Consultant Engineer and PMP instructor

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How to grab the attention of your audience in the first 5 minutes of your session.

Trainees are very suspicious about the trainer at the beginning of any training, having many questions in mind, like:

  • "Is he really capable to deliver this course?"

  • "Does he really know more than me in this subject?"

  • "Will he be able to answer all the questions?"

  • "Does he have the ability to convey the information to me?"

It becomes a real challenge for the trainer to answer all those unhidden questions, and not only this. He has a greater job, he has to inspire them, add to their knowledge, influence their long term memory, and above all - depending on the training area, affect their attitude and sometimes even their behaviour.

Through my training experience in attending and giving PMP exam preparation course and the experience I got from my 2 God fathers in training’ Mr. Sherif Al Attar, my TOT Instructor and Eng. Akram Al Najjar, my PMP instructor, I reached to some interesting techniques to grab the attention of the trainees in the first 5 minutes of the course, given an average number of 15 trainees in the class.

Here are some of them.

First, dress neat and professional. Remember your appearance gives the first impression.

Second, make sure you arrive at the training place early enough. No excuses for being late. Remember you are the leader, and you always have to set the example.

Set your training tools, laptop, slide show, laser pointer, flipcharts, markers, materials,...etc. Make sure all are in place and working perfectly.

Again no excuses!

Note if any of them malfunctions any time during it for any reason.  Don’t bother yourself, carry on with your class; just don’t fix it by yourself, so you don’t lose the focus of your audience. Ask someone from the administration to help. Meanwhile, try to keep your audience busy in another thin; have a quick tour at the material, summarize what you were saying, ask if anyone has a question,...

Before you begin the show, it suffices to mention only your name and let the trainees introduce themselves.

This is the time of the ice breaking, be an active listener, comment in a positive manner about the information they provide, ask for more details sometimes, and ask about their expectations of the course.

Talking about themselves puts them in a relaxed state of mind, and predisposes receiving the information easily from you.

Now, it’s your turn!

Introduce yourself, don't tell your life story, mention some of your accomplishments.

Keep some information about yourself for next sessions so you keep your audience always excited to know more about you.

The objective of this is to answer the first hidden question “Yes, I am capable to deliver this course to you in a professional way".

Trainees are ready now to receive what you will say.

But wait, you have to start by the appetizer, you cannot start immediately by the main course!

This is why you will use the UPOPPR technique.

Utility – Adult trainees come already with knowledge and experience and they want to build on them. They are always in a hurry; they have no time to listen to the whole story. This is why you need to use the WIFIM, "What's in it for me". Ask a question, tell a small story. The objective is to get the “aha” effect on them. What are they going to do with this course?

Product - State clearly the program name. Explain it if necessary.

Process – You have to be clear from the beginning with your trainees about the methodology that you will use in delivering the course, tell them how; will you use video tapes, flipcharts, will you make a role play, exercises, is there a test by the end,..etc. 

Remember again, they are adults, and they have the right to know your agenda.

Objective - State clearly the objective of the training in a sentence or two, the objective should be SMART. Something like "By the end of this training, you will be able to pass a certain exam in a certain duration from the first time”. Or “By the end of the training, you will be able to name the different techniques of a certain system in 5 minutes and have the ability to start applying them in your projects at work”.

Process justification – Where did you get the information from; i.e your reference or source. If it is a strong source, then it shows reliability. If not, you will have to mention a few words about it.

Proof of ability – You have to proof that what you will explain has been applied before, worked with others. You can mention names of companies which apply this process or the number of certificate holders in their area or worldwide.

This will motivate them again to enter the state of learning.

Finally Review – You can emphasize again quickly on the utility and the objective.

Those 5 steps usually take less than 5 minutes. It’s a tried method. And has a magical effect.

Go on. Try it!